A great demand for the acquisition of knowledge

by Hydar Ally
Guyana Chronicle
September 30, 2000

EDUCATION is widely seen as the vehicle for economic advancement and social mobility. Never before has there been so much demand for education services, namely the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values so vital for everyday living.

Most of the schools in Georgetown and other outlying areas are filled to capacity. There appears to be a new premium placed on education, an education renaissance, if you like. This is a good development, one that augers well for the future Guyana, indeed of us all.

The recent SSEE examination results have shown that students can do well and even excel regardless of the location of the school. There is a tendency to believe that good schools can only be found in Georgetown. This, however, is far from true. Take Leonora Primary School for example. This school was able to get eight of the top 100 students in the country. Quite a remarkable achievement!

Five years ago, Leonora Primary was regarded as just another Primary School. It was hardly noticed. Today it is enjoying the spotlight as one of the leading primary schools, not only in Region three, but in the whole of Guyana.

The interesting question is, how did this school move from near oblivion to become one of the most successful in terms of performance and achievement? The school is made up of children who can hardly be described as belonging to an elite group. The children coming in the main from ordinary backgrounds - children of sugar workers and farmers. Yet they were able to compete on an even keel with those of the more sophisticated and affluent backgrounds in particular those from a selected number of Georgetown schools.

The reason for this dramatic turnaround in the school's fortune are in my view two-fold:

(1) management and accountability of the delivery of the curriculum.

(2) effective parent-teacher involvement and participation in the affairs of the school.

There are other success stories as well but I thought I should single out Leonora Primary for the outstanding performance it has been displaying, especially over the past few years.

Education is a serious business, one which we can never take too seriously. The future of our young people, indeed our country, depends on a well-educated and a disciplined population. One major area of emphasis must be on the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values necessary for a full and satisfying life.

Education must also enable children to develop love for their country and cultivate tolerance and respect for cultural and religious differences among our diverse people. It must also teach them to adhere to the principles of democracy, justice, peace and accountability. In short, it must prepare our young people to live productive lives and to cope with the challenges in a rapidly changing technological age.

The Ministry of Education has as one of its major areas of emphasis, the inculcation and reinforcement of a culture of accountability insofar as the delivery of education is concerned. It simply cannot be business as usual when schools continue to perform poorly. As I said before, at stake is not only the future of young and innocent lives, but the very future and well being of our nation.

We are living in what is regarded as a knowledge-based society, one that is driven by technology and ideas. Our very survival depends on our capacity to generate knowledge, skills and ideas. Let us all make a concerted effort to prepare our children for the challenges. In this regard, we must always be reminded of the old adage `To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail'.

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